March 22, 2003

"I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam." Why yes, yes, you were. But at least he's learned:

I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.

As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.

It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you."

Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq.

I wonder why they haven't been reporting on that more? Here's my favorite part, though:

The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.

Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"


BIOLOGICAL WARFARE? "Kurds hemmed in by Turds"? Eew. I wonder if any of those defecating San Francisco protesters were involved.

From The Telegraph:

Thanks to reader Eric Williams for the screenshot.

HOW ARE THINGS GOING? Well, pretty well so far. Iraqis are surrendering, the biggest casualties seem to be from accident and friendly fire, not enemy action, and Iraqi leaders seem demoralized while Iraqi citizens seem pleased. Still, it's too early to say, really. Steven Den Beste is happy with how things are going, but has a list of things he's worried about.

JAY CURRIE and some other Canadians have set up the Canadian Friends of America website. Drop by and say hello -- and if you're an American, say thanks!

THE PARABLE OF THE GIANTS: A tale of considerable relevance for our time.

AN INTERESTING COINCIDENCE relating to the D.C. sniper.

UPDATE: Here's more. This is very troubling if it turns out to be true. (LATER: Dixie Flatline clarifies and retracts a few of his more overwrought statements, which he added in response to Oliver Willis after I initially linked this report. I'm not surprised. Everybody gets overheated from time to time. Even Oliver.)


"Two men are being held, one of which is a Muslim soldier who is an engineer," Ramsay said.

"It appears he was hiding in a barrack where the attacks happened. A second man, who we believe is not an American soldier, is being held by the military.

"As the man who carried out the attack moved away there was some shooting. He was shot in the leg. He was held on the ground less than 100 yards from where the attack happened."

He said fears about the Muslim soldier's behaviour had been raised in recent days by colleagues.

As I say, troubling. Here's another report, via Howard Owens' constantly updated warblog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus has more.

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF at Outside the Beltway and Letter From Gotham. There's a lot of war coverage on BlogCritics, which you might not have expected. And, of course, Jeff Jarvis's Big Media warblog has lots of cool stuff, too. And here's a journalist's blog by John Pendygraft of the St. Petersburg Times.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn looks at war coverage -- and North Korea is getting worried:

The United States says it wants a peaceful settlement to the dispute. But the U.S. war in Iraq is getting intense study from North Korean officials, Strong told reporters.

"They are watching it very carefully and with deep concern, and questioning what this means in terms of the U.S. ultimate intentions toward them," Strong said.

I'd be concerned, too, if I were them. Especially because if the war continues to go well, the United States won't need much time to replenish its stocks of JDAMs and Tomahawks, which I suspect North Korea has figured out. I also think there's more going on with regard to North Korea than meets the eye.

(Both links via Bill Quick). Meanwhile, Tom Daschle is happy about how the war is going.

And check out the BBC Warblog, which is kicking CNN's ass, especially since CNN shut down Kevin Sites' blog (though it would be better still if individual items had permalinks). Excerpt:

Basra :: David Willis :: 1446GMT

I'm looking out now as this large convoy and can see local people in Basra . There are lots of people coming out, lots of children and they are applauding. The people coming out to shake the hands of American forces who are seen as liberating the city of Basra. This has a significant impact on morale.

No doubt it's affecting a lot of people's morale. And there's this, too:

Two direct blows on the Iraqi command - including Thursday night's strike on the headquarters of Qusay Hussein, son and anointed heir of President Saddam - appeared to have unnerved Iraqi officials. But so long as the rest of Baghdad remains almost unscathed, ordinary Iraqis appear relatively buoyant, as they reach for the possibility that maybe this war will be less punishing than they had feared. Perhaps, they reasoned, the Pentagon's warnings of days of shock and awe were merely part of a propaganda war meant to unnerve Iraqis.

If that was the intent, it appeared to be working its magic on Iraqi officialdom. By Mr Ahmed's side, the information minister, Mohammed Sayeed al-Sahaf, similarly attired in olive green uniform, was spitting fury at the selection of targets in Thursday night's air attacks.

Of course, it's from that warmongering, Bush-loving propaganda outlet, The Guardian. But then there's this:

Interviewer: You probably are aware of the demonstrations being held around the world. A lot of them were happening before you came here, and probably in the month that you were here more have popped up around the world. What would you say to these demonstrators who are pretty much living in free and democratic countries and here they have a great deal to say about the U.N. and the United States coming into Iraq?

David: Well, I would tell them I'm proud of you. That's what democracy is all about. That's what freedom is all about. Free, you can talk, you can do anything you want to do. But the people of Iraq cannot do it. Where you been when Saddam Hussein killed 100,000 Kurds? Where you been when he killed a million Iraqi soldiers and Iraqis and Iranis? Where you been when he occupied Kuwait and he killed over a thousand Kuwaitis? Why nobody says nothing?

Interviewer: If Saddam Hussein were in front of you instead of me what would you say to him?

David: (Laughs) I would tell him, "What comes around goes around. Now, your time to go. Your time is up. Now, we're twenty-first century. No room for dictators."

This is good, too. And Howard Owens' big-media warblog is a regular linkfest.

BRYAN PRESTON HAS MORE INFORMATION on the Paris Ricin episode's linkage to both Iraq and Al Qaeda.

PAUL JOHNSON WRITES: "In one blow, Chirac shattered the U.N., NATO and the EU."


It’s interesting, listening to these guys - I’m unsure how it’s possible to sneer the entire time you’re speaking. I fear the announcer’s face will stay that way. Perhaps you can recognize an old Beeb hand by the permanently curled lip. I’ve tuned in twice in half an hour; both times they were talking about the FAILURE to get Saddam, and what this FAILURE means for the war which might be hindered by this initial FAILURE. And then the reporter - a female one, with a sneerier sneer - says the question now is when the attack will come, and whether the President will give his generals permission to act with a free hand.

Um . . . haven’t we already settled that question? I know it conflicts with the Beeb’s view of Bush as a vulture with a bloody globe clutched in one claw, the other holding the leashes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but I heard hours ago that theater decisions had been left to the folks who do this for a living.

Yeah, and Congress voted its approval. Twice. Now Mickey Kaus has been listening and says:

Now I know what Andrew Sullivan's been talking about! ... And James Lileks is right about the British network's near-permanent anti-U.S. sneer. (There was also a hilarious segment in which the Beeb's man-on-the-scene, in the best British tradition, had chosen to report on the mood of the American citizenry from "Lake County" in California -- i.e., California wine country. He managed to find a few Republican citizens and make them sound like comically rabid John Birchers.) ... If I were in the Bush White House, I too would be paranoid and suspect the BBC's airing of Bush's pre-speech primping wasn't just an honest mistake. ...

Yes, it's funny how often anti-Americanism goes hand-in-hand with being a state-funded apparatchik. That goes back to the anti-capitalism point mentioned below.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, a lot of people are experiencing epiphanies as the dishonesty of once-respected media institutions becomes apparent.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Speaking of BBC lip-curling: I've just seen one reporter on BBC News 24 question an Iraqi at an anti-war protest. The reporter obviously didn't do any kind of pre-rehearsal, because things did not go As Planned.

The young lady turns out to be absolutely pro-war, despite having family members in Bagdad, and was about 2000% more eloquent than some of the more telegenic air-heads that the BBC seems to have this curious talent for singling out, and then airing footage of over and over again.

Finally the reporter asks "Why are you at an anti-war rally if you agree with the war?" in a rather peeved tone of voice. The gist of her answer is that most of the protesters don't have the faintest idea of what it's like to live under a regime such as Saddam's, which is right of course.

Then the reporter turns to the camera and says "Well, there you go, one Iraqi who approves of the war" as if this was some mind-boggling occurance, and as if their own footage didn't show Iraqis dancing in the streets when the US Army showed up, and as if there was not one single Iraqi, anywhere else on the entire planet, who might have a itsy-bitsy-teensy-weeny little bit of an issue over how Saddam has been running their country.

No surprises here. (LATER: Here's an account of what seems to be the same interview, from OxBlog.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg has been listening to The Beeb too, and has some not-very-flattering observations.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Perry DeHavilland writes:

The coverage of SkyNews has been head and shoulders better that the rest, as was also the case during the fighting against the Taliban/Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. CNN and ITN are both fair to adequate, and the BBC is hovering between adequate and truly dire, with dreary hackneyed commentary filled with technical errors. Are the BBC incapable of finding a few ex-military people to employ who might know that there is no such thing as an 'Abrahams' battle tank?

It is also easy to see the institutional political biases of the different channels: SkyNews has been repeatedly showing an extended clip of bemused Royal Marines in Umm Qasr surrounded by exuberant Iraqi men welcoming them as liberators... I saw one clip of about 6 or 7 seconds long of this on the BBC. Once.


JIM MILLER has some thoughts on unilateralism.

JAMES MORROW POINTS OUT more evidence of an Iraq/Al Qaeda link in the carbombing that killed an Australian cameraman in northern Iraq.


The Village Voice’s James Ridgeway claims that "the enormous 'shock and awe' bombing campaign against Baghdad, now being carried out by the U.S. military to ensure there is no safe place left to hide in the capital city, will inevitably recall the Allied firebombing of Dresden during World War II” in which 250,000 civilians were killed. As we noted below, the Iraqis have claimed that the first night of “shock and awe” claimed three lives.

Poor guy. Ridgeway just has too much invested in the notion of a murderous America to face reality.


A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

Makes it hard to portray them chiefly as victims of American imperialism, doesn't it? Not that some people will let the facts get in their way. But some, thankfully, will. Perhaps we'll see some highlights from this video broadcast at the Oscars tomorrow night, a tribute to the power of film to reveal truth. . . .

GROWING ANTISEMITISM AND ANTI-AMERICANISM IN EUROPE: Sharing a common source. To that I'd add the growing anti-semitism and anti-Americanism among some in the American left.

UPDATE: Read this, too.


'You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious'

'I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand'

Of course, the quote's from that warmongering Bush mouthpiece, The Guardian, . . . .

"PEACE" PROTESTERS WITH MOLOTOV COCKTAILS: There are some thoughts over at The Volokh Conspiracy.


Thousands of Palestinians on Friday demonstrated across the West Bank and Gaza Strip in support of Iraq, waving Iraqi flags, holding pictures of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat and calling on the Iraqi leader to "burn Tel Aviv."

You know, Bush will probably push through some kind of two-state settlement after things in Iraq are settled down. But given the Palestinians' willful self-destructiveness on so many levels, it will be hard to say that they deserve it. And those who portray the Palestinians as victims need to recognize that they're mostly victims of their own hatred and imbecility.


"We will have to defend our interests so that the contracts which were signed under Saddam Hussein are not annulled as lacking legal force and to make sure the Iraqi debt owed us is respected," he said.

Baghdad owes Moscow at least Ј4.5 billion in Soviet-era debt.

The request to expel diplomats and freeze Iraqi assets was "not made by accident," Ivanov said.

"In this way, they are saying that everything before today was illegal, all contracts signed before are illegal, and legality begins with the arrival of a new administration, even a temporary one."

He catches on pretty quick, though. Did these guys really think that there wouldn't be a diplomatic price?

DEFENSE TECH has a lot of interesting observations on precision weapons, war-fighting, security at Los Alamos, and more.

ENTIRE POPULATION OF IRAQ WIPED OUT: I get this number by taking the Iraqi claim of 250 civilian casualties, which I just heard on Fox, and then multiplying it by the Marc Herold polypseudomathicator. . . .

UPDATE: Actually, as H.D. Miller points out, even Marc Herold can't seem to spin this into a massacre:

So, one is left with the conclusion that if even Marc Herold can produce a credible number of no more than 8 civilian deaths, after three days of intense warfare, then American forces are certainly taking extreme care in conducting this war.

And, unfortunately for Marc Herold and company, the point is also proven that when you're forced to use real numbers in your statistics you often end up making the case for the very people and causes you vociferously oppose.

Those damned inconvenient facts again!

IRAQI-AMERICANS talk about Saddam:

Alroumi, 44, fled his home city of Al Basrah in 1991 and hasn't seen his family since. He was granted political asylum in the United States after a stint in a Saudi Arabia refugee camp.

Across the table, Alroumi described watching dogs pick at the bodies of citizens killed by the Iraqi Republican Guard after the Gulf War in 1991. Like his friends, he fled to Saudi Arabia, and eventually, the United States, where he now works as a mechanic.

"I am worried about my family, but I am happy to get Saddam Hussein," he said. "I hope he's running down the highway with (deputy prime minister)Tariq Aziz."

As news spread of Iraqi troops setting fire to oil wells ahead of advancing U.S. troops, Alrikabi thought again to his days as a young student.

He recalled watching televised speeches of Saddam in which he threatened to leave "an empty country -- just dust" to any foreign force that tried to invade.

"That's what he's doing now," he said. "Saddam's burning my oil. It doesn't belong to him, it belongs to the Iraqi people."

Saddam sees the country as his personal possession. Ordinary Iraqis, naturally, resent this. Another one of those weaknesses I mention below.

TOMMY FRANKS is doing a good job in his press briefing, which I'm watching at the moment. The reporters, also, don't look quite as dumb as they did at Rumsfeld's briefing the other day. Well, most of them.

JEFF JARVIS JOINS THE CHORUS condemning CNN's decision to make Kevin Sites shut down his warblog. And he's a big-media guy. Who wears suits!

MORE PICTURES OF IRAQIS CELEBRATING LIBERATION -- via The Politburo, which has a lot of good coverage.


IRAQI conscripts shot their own officers in the chest yesterday to avoid a fruitless fight over the oil terminals at al-Faw. British soldiers from 40 Commando’s Charlie Company found a bunker full of the dead officers, with spent shells from an AK47 rifle around them.
Stuck between the US Seals and the Royal Marines, whom they did not want to fight, and a regime that would kill them if they refused, it was the conscripts’ only way out.

In total, 40 Commando had collected more than 100 prisoners of war yesterday from the few square miles of the al-Faw peninsula that they controlled. Two of them were a general in the regular Iraqi Army and a brigadier. They came out from the command bunker where they had been hiding after 40 Commando’s Bravo Company fired two anti-tank missiles into it. With them was a large sports holdall stuffed with money. They insisted that they had been about to pay their troops, to the disbelief of their captors.

These were the men who had left their soldiers hungry, poorly armed and almost destitute for weeks, judging by the state we had seen them in, while appearing to keep the money for themselves.

Such "leadership" is more common than not among the world's armies, and probably goes a long way toward explaining U.S. military superiority all by itself. Salam Pax features this quote from Samuel Huntington on his page:

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

But having officers who don't abscond with their troops' pay is, in fact, one example of the superiority of Western ideas, and it's one that translates rather directly into superiority where organized violence is concerned. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Dictatorships like Saddam's -- which based on history and prevalence might be regarded as the "natural" form of human governance -- turn out to be lousy at war. Democracies embodying Western ideas turn out to be a lot better. That's not a coincidence, however much non-Westerners might wish to believe that it is.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe these protesters were actually Iraqis!

March 21, 2003

MORE MISSILES AND BOMBS IN BAGHDAD --- and, though less televised, elsewhere -- but not much real news. It's talking-headville on the cable networks, and overall the coverage remains rather boring.

Mostly there are lots of live camera shots of the Baghdad dawn with nothing much happening. Cruise missiles hit some buildings and bunkers, but Baghdad as a whole seems gratifyingly intact. Well, gratifyingly except maybe to some of the news folks, who would no doubt like to have more to show.

Anyway, since the Baghdad skyline figures so prominently in the news, and since I neglected to install a webcam in Baghdad prior to the outbreak of hostilities, I'm instead offering this photo of the Knoxville sky, taken a few hours earlier from near the University of Tennessee campus, looking west. It's intact, too.

No missiles here, for which I -- and the rest of Knoxville, no doubt -- am grateful. Good night. See you tomorrow.

IRAQ AND TERRORISM: Alex Knapp has a roundup.

KEN LAYNE WRITES: "CNN is so Gulf War I."

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs reports that some idiot on CNN radio described Iraq as "a Republic like the United States."

TACITUS OFFERS a photo-Fisking.

Some antiwar types are upset at my comments below about a peaceful liberation of Iraq being the "peace" movement's worst nightmare. I think that the post to which Tacitus is replying proves my point -- not that it needs proving to anyone who has been paying attention.

Anyway, here's Worst Nightmare II. Heh.

UPDATE: And here's a different kind of "photo-Fisking." Heh, again.

HEY -- THERE ARE TOO French fighters in Iraq!



CIA sources have revealed that several Iraqis are being hunted in Mexico.

The six suspects are thought to have chemical and biological weapons with them.

According to reports, the men have tried to persuade smugglers, who profit from helping people cross the Mexican border into the US, to get them into America.

With any luck, they'll die of thirst in the desert.

UPDATE: Mexico is denying this report.

THE COMMAND POST says it has caught CBS in flagrant photographic fraud.

KARL ROVE'S USEFUL IDIOTS: This report from San Francisco says it all:

In the Financial District, the demonstrators were of the traditional kind -- fatigue jackets and granny dresses. Indeed, around Montgomery & Market, the happenings had the air -- the sexy air -- of old Berkeley. But at the Civic Center, at traffic intersections around Mish, 7th, 8th, and along Van Ness and up through the Tenderloin, things were absurd and self-indulgent. The demonstrators were of the freakish sort: clown clothes, bicycles, and cans of plastic string. But it wasn't fun.

At 7th & Mish, by the U.S. Court House, I sat in a van driven by Nathaniel Shelton, who transports patients to and from Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. We were stuck, along with a fleet of Fed Ex drivers, just after 9 a.m., as demonstrators rode bikes in a circle in the intersection, closed it off with colored string, and berated the truck drivers.

"It's almost as if they were protesting us," said Shelton. Indeed, the enmity and ridicule of the protesters was directed at working people trying to get their work done. The massive Court House, a seat of government power, was ignored. At the Civic Center, a group of demonstrators defecated. Then they left, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by others. Not only disgusting, but this idiocy belittles the proud tradition of civic protest in our national history ... Sigh ...

They protest in the name of the working people, but they don't actually like working people.

A NEW MTV POLL SHOWS that the antiwar movement is out of touch with America's youth -- the majority of whom support the war.


AFRAID OF COMPETITION? CNN has put the kibosh on Kevin Sites' warblog.

IRAQIS TRY TO SURRENDER TO WAR CORRESPONDENT -- an email account via Nick Denton.

KEEP YOUR EYE OFF THE BALL: I expand on some advice by Matt Welch, over at

WI-FI RULES: Spent a little time at the Downtown Grill and Bar, a brewpub owned by a friend from high school, and persuaded them to add free wireless Internet access.

There are a lot of people moving to fancy downtown apartments in Knoxville's Old City, and they think that this will be a lure for business, especially during off-hours. I think they're right. And since my readers -- to judge by email -- have a rather strong interest in the Knoxville barmaid community, I'm including this photo, taken atop the brewing tanks. The IPA is especially good.

UPDATE: Hey, Stephen Green is following my example:

Later tonight, my brother-in-law Rick and I will go support the troops by over-tipping cute cocktail waitresses who might have boyfriends or husbands serving in Iraq, right now as we speak.

Frankly, I'm shocked and saddened that no one else has had the courage to do something for these brave gals, and I assure you Rick and I are both beaming with pride at the prospect of tonight's patriotic action.

He's a great American.

"HUNDREDS OF IRAQIS EAGERLY SURRENDER:" Well, yeah. We've had our learning curve, and they've had theirs. And what they learned last time was that surrendering wasn't so bad, while fighting was pretty damned lethal.

Then again, other people seem to have figured out what's going on, too:

In the town of Safwan, Iraqi civilians eagerly greeted the 1st Marine Division.

One little boy, who had chocolate melted all over his face after a soldier gave him some treats from his ration kit, kept pointing at the sky, saying “Ameriki, Ameriki.”

This is the "peace" movement's worst nightmare, isn't it?


Liberation reported that Dominique Dord, a deputy from the majority UMP party, said during Tuesday's assembly debate, "We would look really stupid if Iraqis applaud the arrival of Americans."


"No Saddam Hussein!" called one young man. "Bush!"

Another young man named Abdullah cheered the arriving Americans. "Saddam Hussein is no good. Saddam Hussein a butcher." . . .

"Americans very good," a man named Ali Khemy said. "Iraq wants to be free."

Some of the townspeople chanted, "Ameriki! Ameriki!" Others put makeshift white flags on their cars and trucks. And many simply patted their bellies in a sign of hunger.

These are all scenes from the liberation of Safwan, Iraq — a "poor, dirty, wrecked" town near the border with Kuwait. Before crowds of Iraqis, American Marines used their jeeps to pull down portraits of Saddam. Maj. David "Bull" Gurfein told the people of Safwan: "Saddam is done" and launched them in a cheer: "Iraqis! Iraqis! Iraqis!"

Like I said, prophetic.


The French president said at a European Union summit he would "not accept" a resolution that "would legitimize the military intervention [and] would give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."

"That would justify the war after the event," Chirac told reporters.

We should keep the United Nations, and its cadre of neocolonialist "internationals" as far away from Iraq as possible, and we should do our best to underscore the United Nations' fecklessness and futility at every turn.

Er, to the extent that Chirac doesn't do it for us, that is.

UPDATE: He's hard at work, our Jacques:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) - European Union (news - web sites) divisions over Iraq (news - web sites) widened Friday when three anti-war states agreed to hold a summit on defense integration without Britain, while London stood by charges that France had wrecked diplomacy in the crisis.

As EU leaders wrapped up a second day of tense talks, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced plans for France, Germany and Belgium to meet next month to discuss integrating their armed forces more closely.

A military union of France, Germany, and the dreaded Belgians! That'll show 'em! Well, it's showing us something, all right. This way they can be ineffectual in unison, instead of individually. . . .

UPDATE: Brian Erst emails: "Ineffective in unison. Now we know the French meaning of 'multilateral.'"

MAJOR AIR ATTACKS IN BAGHDAD -- I'm watching Rumsfeld's briefing now.

UPDATE: Rumsfeld says the Iraqi government is losing control. He's gleefully pointing out examples of Iraqi officials' "confusion."

"The regime is history."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeez, some idiot just asked Rumsfeld if we're winning so easily that we'll be "seen as a bully." Rumsfeld's response, basically, is "only by idiots."


On Saturday, at one of the state's public colleges, another man said something even worse about another black female government official.

In front of an overwhelmingly black audience of about 100 at Coppin State College, Amiri Baraka, New Jersey's Lunatic Laureate, called national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a "skeeza."

For those of you not in the know, a "skeeza" is a derogatory street term used in reference to a woman and as offensive as calling her a prostitute. It's a noxious, bilious, disgustingly sexist term and one of the worst things you could call a woman.

It is something Rice certainly is not. Baraka knows she's not. Those blacks who laughed, giggled, tittered and applauded when Baraka said it know she's not. But what was the reaction of these black folks when Baraka finished his invective masquerading as poetry that he called "Somebody Blew Up America"?

They gave him thunderous applause and a standing ovation. At no time was there the indignation that was present when O'Malley said much less about Jessamy. I guess Baraka can get away with it because he hates all the right people.

I'm waiting for the chorus of condemnation for this slur. You know it would be forthcoming if Trent Lott had said it. Instead, we get this:

Robert Cataliotti, an associate professor in Coppin's department of humanities and media, said Baraka was paid for his appearance, and he defended his being invited to speak.

"[Baraka's] a major figure in the development of African-American literature," Cataliotti said. "I'm not here to judge the content of his poem. He has the right as an American to express his opinion."

And others have the right, and perhaps the duty, to condemn his opinion -- unless they share his ugly views.


JONATHAN LAST WRITES THAT BIG MEDIA ARE FINALLY CATCHING UP with guerrilla media. Or at least trying to. Evan Coyne Maloney gets a mention.

THIS PBS NEWSHOUR TRANSCRIPT shows Iraqi-Americans jubilant about the invasion of Iraq.

I'm glad to see this stuff -- but how come they weren't doing more stories on this kind of thing a month or two ago, when it might have had an impact on the war debate?

Hmm. . . .

NOW THE LEFT CAN HATE SADDAM TOO: Jonathan Adler details his environmental crimes.

LILEKS HAS BEEN WARBLOGGING. Here's my favorite bit:

3:10 PM NPR is interviewing a Saudi editor, who warns us that the average Saudi - who of course holds Saddam in contempt as a brutal butcher - will nevertheless be very angry if America kills fifty Iraqis and continues to block UN resolutions on Israel. I say when this war is over we couple the issue of Palestinian rights with Saudi women’s rights. Self-determination for everyone. The Pals get autonomy; Saudi women get driver’s licenses. Agreed?

Heh. Read it all, and don't miss this:

5:17 PM News report: Hans Blix admits that he would have never have found all the WMD. Thanks, Hans. Much obliged. I’m guessing that he was paid by the week, not by the discovery; if we’d given him a bonus for Finding Stuff, and the bonus exceeded what he would have made in a year of desultory squinting, we might have had the material breach in week one.



Fischer and de Villepin have declared passionately for months that war would be wrong and that their governments wouldn't stand for it. So what are they doing about it, now that it's started? The same thing they did about Saddam Hussein's rearmament: nothing. Sloth and cowardice, it turns out, are as agreeable to American aggression as to Iraqi aggression.

"The Security Council has not failed," Fischer told fellow council members. "The Security Council has made available the instruments to disarm Iraq peacefully. The Security Council is not responsible for what is happening outside the U.N."

Wait, let's hear that again. The Security Council is not responsible for what is happening outside the U.N.

And to think some people said the United Nations was useless.

Saletan continues:

Let's see. The Security Council negotiation process failed to give pro-war nations the legitimacy they sought. It failed to give anti-war nations an effective veto. It failed to keep the peace. A massive American-led assault on Iraq is underway—I'd call that an alternative—and nobody's paying attention to Fischer's urgently relevant remarks. I've underestimated the German sense of humor.

De Villepin followed Fischer's speech with an equally indispensable lecture on the wisdom of France. The U.N. weapons inspections, he explained, had merely been "interrupted" and would soon resume. To those who think this war will eradicate terrorism, de Villepin warned, "we say they run the risk of failing in their objectives."

Fair enough. So here are our options: the risk of failure or the certainty of it. Gentlemen, gentlemen. Your words are as compelling as your deeds.

If the Franco-German axis had set out deliberately to construct a compelling case for American unilateralism and the futility of the United Nations, it could hardly have done a better job.

DOCUMENTARIAN DAVID HARDY writes that Bowling for Columbine shouldn't be eligible for an Academy Award as a documentary because -- by the Academy's own standards -- it's not actually a documentary. But will the Academy listen?


The "Great Satan" has invaded Iraq but students at Tehran University seem pleased at the prospect.

"It will be a good thing to have American troops in Iraq. Perhaps that will bring change to Iran," said Namin, a lanky engineering student strolling to class.

"Maybe that will put more pressure on the regime here." Unlike fellow Muslims in the Middle East or their predecessors 23 years ago who seized the United States embassy, students today are not seething with anger against America and are unmoved by the government's daily references to "the enemy" in Washington.

"I think only about the consequences of a war. If the war has good consequences, let it be," said another student, Mohammad. "We're not protesting like European students. We don't have a democratic government like they do. We're not acting like them because we're not in European shoes."

Politically incorrect attitudes on campus are not helping calm the nerves of the country's conservative leadership, which appears genuinely concerned at the implications of "regime change" next door.

Heh. It should be.

BLIX SAYS IRAQIS IN VIOLATION: A day late, and a dollar short, as usual.

THE GLOVES ARE OFF: Britain is releasing figures on Franco-German trade with Iraq:

As Tony Blair prepared to meet President Jacques Chirac at the European Union summit in Brussels last night, Downing Street drew attention to statistics that detail the value of EU sales to Saddam Hussein's regime.

The figures show that since 1997, France and Germany have exported goods worth more than Ј1.7 billion to Iraq, compared to British exports worth Ј193 million.

Government sources claimed France and Germany interpreted UN sanctions more liberally than Britain.

"More liberally," eh? Indeed. Meanwhile, Blair and Chirac are not exactly getting along at the EU summit:

The diplomatic war of words between Britain and France over Iraq reached new heights last night as Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac clashed at a European Union dinner in Brussels.

Downing Street made clear its disgust at the French president's behaviour after he insisted on removing a paragraph from the summit communique expressing regret that Iraq had not responded to UN demands to disarm under resolution 1441.

In a withering reference to the French president, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "One is always surprised when people do not want a reference to the unanimous decision of the UN."

But Mr Blair put his foot down when M Chirac also tried to remove a reference in the declaration stating that the EU's aim remained the "full and effective disarmament" of Iraq.

Chirac's fuming impotence is beginning to look comic, rather than sinister.

UPDATE: Then there's this:

European leaders today expressed personal condolences to Tony Blair over last night's helicopter crash in Kuwait - but the French president, Jaques Chirac, was not among them.

And it's headlined in The Guardian, of all places.

UPDATE: Reader Xavier Basora emails:

You'll need to correct the last paragraph,. Early this morning I listened to Blair's press conference on CNN after the meeting and he stated publically that Chirac handwrote a personal letter of condolences to him; the government sents its condolences to the British. I don't have a link yet but one should be up by this afternoon.

What? The Guardian wrong? Actually, what's most interesting about the Guardian story isn't the story, but the strong anti-French slant -- which becomes even more interesting if the slant is so strong as to be false. I think this means that Tony Blair's left flank is well-defended, thanks to growing anti-French sentiment in Britain.


I think the fact that Baghdad is still largely intact (among other things) is evidence they may have actually gotten Saddam. It sounds like they may be exploiting the breakdown of command and working other channels to arrange some sort of surrender, thus avoiding massive destruction of Iraqi infrastructure (not to mention civilians). Andrew apparently agrees. This would be a good thing, at least in terms of reconstruction and "democratization" efforts, and for humanitarian considerations. This would also reduce the likelihood of massive refuge problems in neighboring countries.

So far it seems like the war is being prosecuted with remarkable restraint and a subtlety that was not evident in the pre-war rhetoric and blustering. On the other hand, today is another day and more surprises could be in store. If so, I'd look for fireworks around 3:00 to 4:00 AM Baghdad time, which would not only provide cover of darkness but would also coincide nicely with network prime time in the U.S. and present the opportunity for dramatic accounts of "daring pre-dawn" raids, which I know Wolf is just dying to say on the air.

And I know the world is breathlessly awaiting analysis and commentary by some anonymous Bubba, so there you go.

Of course we are. At least, I was! Meanwhile, both this Andrew and this one do seem to agree that we may have gotten Saddam after all. This article from the Washington Post (which has the New York Times beat hollow on war reportage) says that intelligence officials think Saddam was in the bunker, but don't know if he survived. We'll see. Interestingly, it's probably not in anyone's interest, on any side, to go public with definitive news of Saddam's life or death just yet, even if they know for certain.

And most of the pre-war bluster about massive casualties and destruction came from peace activists and gullible journalists, I think. Of course, that only made it more credible to some. . . . Hmm. Maybe they're not just Karl Rove's useful idiots -- maybe they're Donald Rumsfeld's useful idiots, too. But hey, at least they're making themselves useful for a change!


KUWAIT CITY, March 20 -- U.S. and British ground forces punched into Iraq across a broad front tonight after a booming artillery barrage, seizing territory along the Kuwaiti border with only modest resistance and pushing on toward the key southern city of Basra. While the sweeping land invasion began under a hazy desert moon, a second torrent of U.S. cruise missiles destroyed several buildings in Baghdad.

The long-awaited ground war started a day earlier than planned because of President Bush's decision to launch the "decapitation" attack on the Iraqi leadership early this morning, U.S. officers said. Although the invasion was clearly underway after months of buildup, U.S. defense officials characterized the movements as the first step in a much more massive push toward President Saddam Hussein's headquarters in the Iraqi capital.

The news isn't exciting, but that's a good thing.

March 20, 2003

HERE'S AN ACCOUNT OF PRO-LIBERATION ACTIVISM by Brandeis University's student group, United We Stand. I like the part about attending extra classes, to make up for the anti-war students who were on "strike."

TIRED OF WAR-TALK? Check out the NASA Solar System Simulator, which I found via The Sleaze Report. (I don't know why -- there's nothing sleazy about it, it's very cool. . . .)

And, of course, Gizmodo just keeps plugging along with cool new gadgets, most of which I'd like to own. Finally, this post about wireless pizza blogging is largely war-free.

IF YOU'VE MISSED IT BEFORE, Outside the Beltway is a warblog that's worth reading.

SPENT SOME TIME WATCHING CABLE: Fox, CNN, MSNBC -- even ABC and NBC. They've spent a lot of money so that their correspondents can beam images back via videophone. So far all it's producing is a lot of blurry images of the rear ends of tanks and AFVs while color commentators desperately try to make it interesting.

Personally, I think that's a good thing. When your invasion is unopposed, and thus boring, things are going well indeed. But the network executives must be gnashing their teeth. So far the TV coverage of our war is pretty dull.

If you get bored, try checking out this collection of maps and links to maps, courtesy of Quana.

TONY ADRAGNA has a firsthand report from the rather unimpressive D.C. antiwar protest.

FUNNY, you don't hear much about North Korea at the moment. And North Korea's being awfully quiet itself, too. If I were the suspicious type, that would make me wonder.

JIM HENLEY has a pretty damn interesting suggestion for who ought to be in charge of postwar reconstruction in Iraq: Vaclav Havel. Read the post.

I wonder what Matt Welch thinks about it?

HMM. Limitations on aircraft near Disneyworld and Disneyland went into effect Tuesday. There were some others involving the New York and D.C. areas, but I agree with John Moore that these seem a bit, well, specific. I wonder if they're in response to an actual threat, as opposed to mere precautions?

THE UNITED STATES is confiscating Saddam's assets:

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the United States and Iraq are engaged in armed hostilities, that it is in the interest of the United States to confiscate certain property of the Government of Iraq and its agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled entities, and that all right, title, and interest in any property so confiscated should vest in the Department of the Treasury. I intend that such vested property should be used to assist the Iraqi people and to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq, and determine that such use would be in the interest of and for the benefit of the United States.

(Via Mike Campbell, who reports that it's $1.4 billion).

SUPPORT FOR WAR IS INCREASING among Australians, just as it is among Americans and Britons.

ARE THE ANTI-NEOCONS Saudi stooges? Matt Welch explores the question.

PRO-BLIX DIXIE CHICKS NIX PIX FOR STIX! Heh. Let's see if Kaus can match that one.


I just saw a CNN segment done in Dearborn MI. The reporter was interviewing people at a mosque just after evening prayers. They were Iraqis, and they were very much in favor of ridding Iraq of Saddam -- even if a few more of their countrymen die in the action. All of them had lost family to Saddam's tender mercies.

Seems to me that trumps anything the anti-war [folks] put up.

I wish I'd seen it.


While "High Noon" is an excellent refutation of Tom Friedman's errroneous Western-posse hypothesis, one need look no further than "The Searchers," the greatest Western ever made. John Wayne gets a posse together (the UN) to hunt for his niece, but then ditches them when they don't have the stomach to stalk the Apaches (Iraq) who kidnapped (terrorized) his family (the US and its allies). He takes one cousin (Britain), albeit reluctantly, in a relentless search for his niece, whom he eventually finds while destroying a good part of the tribe that performed the kidnapping (terror). He returns her safely (regime change) to family friends so she can live a normal life (democracy and freedom).

In my very humble opinion, Tom Friedman has not watched enough of the great Westerns. Otherwise, he'd find perfect parallels in these two movies. Whenever anyone calls someone a "cowboy," I think of John Wayne and Gary Cooper -- who better represented our American ideals? Whoever thought of "cowboy" as a term of denigration? It's the highest compliment you can pay an American!

Indeed. That's about the size of it. . . .

Heck, has Friedman even seen City Slickers?

Meanwhile Scott Rogers emails from Washington University School of Law:

Here at WashU's law school we've been showing different movies to that highlight aspects of the law. This message went out yesterday. I only mention it per your link to Geitner Simmons.

"In view of the international events taking place this week, the award winning Japanese film--A Taxing Woman--which as to be shown this week in the Harris Institute International Film Series will be postponed. In its place we will show as A Paradigm of American Justice, the classic film--High Noon--starring Gary Cooper (who won an Oscar for his role) and Grace Kelly. The film will be shown at 2 pm in the small courtroom."


REUTERS CALLS IT the day of the warblogs. (Via Jeff Jarvis).

SADDAM'S BUNKER HAS BEEN LOCATED -- sounds plausible to me.

WHO ARMED SADDAM? And who does he owe the most money to? Take a wild guess.

STRIKE TWO for the Dixie Chicks -- posing for a PETA anti-fur ad? What were they thinking? Here's the money quote:

THE TRIO POSED in a field of flowers, wearing nothing but blossoms and their strategically placed instruments. A photo of the ad can be seen on the photographer’s Web site,

It turns out that the Chicks are staunch animal-rights supporters, but at the last minute the group’s management put the kibosh on the ad.

“The Chicks themselves were lovely about the whole thing, but their management got worried that some of their fans were rifle-toting, Bambi-shooting types who would take offense at an anti-fur, pro-animal message,” says a source. “They forbid release of the ad because they were worried about backlash or boycott. They even tried to pay PETA $10,000 to say it never happened.”

Somehow, I think those "rifle-toting, Bambi-shooting types" will be buying CDs by some other artists from now on.

UPDATE: Meanwhile some people are muttering darkly of "blacklists" because of anger at antiwar celebrities. Hey -- it's not a blacklist when you piss off your fans. Calling it that just serves to underscore the combination of overentitlement and moral unseriousness that marks entertainers today. As Yvonne Zipp writes:

A boycott is not the same as a blacklist. No one is hauling celebrities in front of committees and threatening them with prison. Nor are they being told they can never work again if they don't "name names."

Entertainers are free to use their fame to promote their political views, and those people who don't find them entertaining anymore are free to change the channel.

It's called the free market.

Maybe that's why so many celebrities hate that, too.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

"Somehow, I think those 'rifle-toting, Bambi-shooting types' will be buying CDs by some other artists from now on."

In that case, I've got the perfect headline for you: "Pro-Blix Dixie Chicks nix pix for stix!"

I love it.

DOUG "InstaLawyer" WEINSTEIN took some pics of the rather lame protest at the federal building here in Knoxville. I believe that they managed to turn out a lot more people -- though still not that many -- for the previous Gulf War. I think the anti-war movement is dying, for lack of a rationale. Note the dummy sprawled on the pavement. I don't know what that signifies. I guess I could suggest that it stands for the movement, but that would be needlessly cruel. (There are a few more people off to the right, shown in some other pics, but not many).

Doug'll have more pictures on his site a bit later. I'm hosting 'em for him on my server, since he's blogspot-only, the poor bastard.

UPDATE: Doug's got his pictures up now. Here's a link, though of course the one above works, too.

BRYAN PRESTON writes that there's an Iraq connection to the Paris ricin discovery.

"SHOCK AND AWE" -- PR JiuJitsu taking advantage of anti-American hyperbole?

We'll see. I love the idea, though.

STREAMING VIDEO of air raids in Baghdad at the MSNBC front page. Click on "video."

RICIN IN PARIS? Hmm. I guess that appeasement stuff isn't working.

PARIS (Reuters) - The French Interior Ministry said on Thursday that traces of the deadly toxin ricin have been found in the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris.

A spokesman told Reuters that two small flasks containing traces of the poison were discovered in a left luggage depot at the mainline railway station which serves the south of France.

In January, British anti-terrorist police arrested several people in connection with the alleged discovery of ricin in a tiny north London flat.

I wonder if any Algerians are involved?

VICTORY CONDITIONS: How will we know when we've won? Discussed over at

STEPHEN REINHARDT, ARCH-FEDERALIST: This 9th Circuit opinion says that non-commercial kiddie porn can't be regulated by Congress under the Commerce Clause. I've barely skimmed the opinion, but I note that the Sixth Circuit, in U.S. v. Corp held the same thing, and the opinion was written by Harry Wellford, a rather conservative judge.

Reinhardt's evil hidden agenda, however, was no doubt to render my latest law review article -- which just came out a couple of weeks ago and deals with the general reluctance of Federal appellate courts to take Commerce Clause limitations seriously -- immediately obsolete. Oh, well: you want timeliness, read the blog. Er, which you are, of course.

(Via The Volokh Conspiracy).

JASON KOTTKE and Taegan Goddard are wondering if the start date for the war was leaked to media folks early. Meanwhile, Gotham predicted the date a while back, using a rather different methodology.

HOWARD OWENS is blogging up a storm.


Saddam fired a couple of those Scuds that he doesn't have at me this afternoon.

He missed.


BUSH WAS JUST ON TV -- talking about Medicare. Huh?

HEH. I guess that would be these guys.

BTW, I've been meaning to thank Bill Quick for calling Day By Day to my attention, and that of a lot of other people. Great find.

GARY COOPER and "necessary unilateralism" -- Geitner Simmons instructs Tom Friedman on cinematic parallels.


11:00 PST -- Waves of anti-war protesters made good on their promise to disrupt downtown San Francisco this morning, as they occupied intersections throughout the Financial District, South of Market and Civic Center, preventing buses and cars from navigating the streets.

Demonstrations began with sunrise and heated up rapidly after 7 a.m., as groups of protesters fanned out to locations they had selected over the previous several weeks.

By late morning, demonstrators were still moving from intersection to intersection, and large portions of Market Street, Van Ness Avenue and other thoroughfares were blocked off.

"We don't want to alienate people. I hope people realize that political murder merits action that inconveniences them," said Quinn Miller, 32, who took the day off from his job for a banking company and said he expected to be arrested for the first time in his life.

Of course, maybe these guys are more of Karl Rove's agents provocateurs:

Outside the Transamerica Pyramid, more than 100 demonstrators shouted anti-war slogans, shutting down the intersection of Clay and Montgomery and angering motorists.

"You suck. Why don't you all go to North Korea and do this," yelled Larry Chu, who had driven into the city from San Rafael and had been stuck for several minutes in his car.

Go see Evan Coyne Maloney's video and ask yourself: are these people for real? Or actors hired to discredit the opposition? And is it even possible to tell the difference, these days?

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll has more thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Christopher Baker emails from San Francisco:

I think your recent post overstates the protests.

I did have a few roblems getting to work today. A few people (not a lot) blocked some city streets to protest the war. Just a few minutes ago, the whole group of protesters (maybe one hundred and fifty) walked down the middle of Second Street trying to put up barricades by rolling garbage bins and dragging newspaper boxes into the street. They spilled a lot of "Bay Guardians" - a far left free daily -- in the process. The police followed behind, cleaning up after them, but not really arresting anyone. Really, what would be the point?

I watched the proceedings from my office window with a co-worker. He's a strong Democrat and he opposes the war. Looking down at the pathetic-looking group and their shenanigans, he shook his head and said "It makes me want to support Bush."

Someone needs to tell the protesters that trying to shut down San Francisco, the city that loves France, is not going to have any effect on America's foreign policy. All they're doing is pissing off their choir.

More support for the Rove theory. Let's call them "Karl Rove's useful idiots!"

Then there's this reaction: "Yawn."

H.D. MILLER THINKS, quite reasonably, that it was Uday in the bunker.


March 20 — The U.S. military launched ground and air attacks on Iraq Thursday, firing Army artillery into the south and unleashing waves of bombings on Baghdad. Television footage of Baghdad showed explosions in the dark, while correspondent Peter Arnett described seeing missiles hit at least two buildings — possibly a TV center and an intelligence structure inside the presidential compound.

Not much more to say at the moment. I hope it goes well, and quickly. I'll have some thoughts on what constitutes victory over at in a little while.

SALAM PAX UPDATE: Will Femia has a fairly lengthy piece on Salam and his weblog, saying that Peter Arnett, etc., are being scooped, and out-written.

Meanwhile, Paul Boutin thinks that he's "probably" for real, and has done some digging. Jason Kottke has more, too.

These are very interesting posts, but the question isn't so much is Salam real, or in Baghdad. It's whether he's really an ordinary Iraqi as he claims, or something else (conceivably, on either side). And that's much harder to know. That's the issue with intelligence -- facts are easier to figure out than motivations, but motivations usually matter as much as discernable facts.

UPDATE: Here's more from Gotham.

MAJOR VICTORIES FOR GUN RIGHTS in Colorado, reported by Clayton Cramer, who has joined the ever-expanding Volokh Conspiracy.

LOTS OF NEW STUFF over at Virginia Postrel's site -- including information on a volunteer support-the-troops effort called "Operation Homefront." It's really a "support the troops' families" effort, and Virginia is taking donations, so go over there and donate.

I'M NOW WIRELESS-BLOGGING from the Mellow Mushroom on campus, seated in front of a huge HDTV carrying CNN. There still doesn't seem to be a lot of real news, and so far the Baghdad-cam continues to be a bust.

I'm certainly a fan of the setting, though. With my former colleague Peter Morgan, I watched CNN at lunch during the last war at the late, lamented Roman Room. This place has less atmosphere and history, but better TVs and a wireless network. And the waitress is substantially more attractive than the Roman Room's George, even if he was a Knoxville institution.

UPDATE: By popular demand, here's a picture of the waitress. (Sorry, guys, I'm not posting her name on the Internet. She was happy to let me take her picture for the site, but . . . ) Sadly, I don't have a picture of George, though, so you'll have to trust me on the comparison.

Overall, I give the Mellow Mushroom's wireless setup about a B+ or A-. It seemed a bit slow to me, as I think I was sharing a single Linksys WAP with, well, everyone else who was using it. On the other hand, today's a bad day to judge, as the whole Internet seems a bit slow to me, and I don't know how much of the slowness was the result of wireless bandwidth and how much was the result of the sites being slow to serve, or net congestion along the way.

The staff thought it was pretty cool to see photos posted in realtime like that. And the pizza was great, though I didn't need to order two slices given that each slice was about the size of Detroit. Sadly, I didn't partake of any of their dozen-or-two varieties of draft beer as I have a committee meeting in about an hour and those call for caffeine, not alcohol.

JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA have announced their support for the liberation of Iraq.

THE PENTAGON is using a lot of commercial satellites for both imaging and communications. Interesting piece.

SADDAM'S SPEECH has been Fisked with verve and vigor. Heh.

THE TURKS want to send troops into Northern Iraq. I hope we'll explain to them that it might be dangerous to do so, since there's a war on.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, with this crackdown on journalists who don't toe the administration line:

The Cuban government has jailed 10 independent journalists -- most of whom publish articles on Internet news sites -- as part of a larger crackdown against political opposition on the island.

Police went from house to house on March 18, rounding up the reporters and 24 political activists, according to the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Authorities confiscated the detainees' computer equipment, books and papers, the group said.

I sure hope we'll hear a lot of people denouncing this at the Oscars.

SUSANNA CORNETT has posts on bellicose women and editorial bias at Editor and Publisher. Just keep scrolling!

DAVE WINER has a lot of war-related links. Currently, his page is topped with a report from Debka that mass Iraqi surrenders are forthcoming. I'm a Debka-skeptic, but I hope this will turn out to be true.

OVER 190,000 PAGEVIEWS YESTERDAY. Sheesh. Fortunately, I get a good deal on bandwidth.

IT'S A BLOGATHON over at Lots of good posts. Check it out.


For me, the antiwar movement such as it was, is over. We lost. It’s time to wish the best for our soldiers and the victims of this war focus on building a better future.

If you want to see -- graphically -- why the antiwar movement failed, Evan Coyne Maloney has a brand-new documentary video on anti-war protests from last weekend in San Francisco. The antiwar movement failed because it was morally and intellectually unserious, and could never articulate an alternative position that might plausibly have led to a safer America and a safer world.

Had it been able to do so, it might have gotten some traction. But it was too overwhelmed by anti-Bush, anti-capitalist, and anti-American sentiments to generate a positive vision. Even a lot of lefties have noticed that recently.

UPDATE: One of the protesters interviewed by Maloney, a guy named Frank Chiu, is so famous he has a fan club. But of course!

CHIRAC UPDATE: Via Armed Prophet, I find this hilarious story:

President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac may not be phone pals anymore, but that didn't stop Chirac from discussing Saddam Hussein, the war in Iraq, and other serious issues with another famous American: Jerry Lewis.

Except it turns out that the man who had a five-minute phone conversation with Chirac last week wasn't Lewis, but rather a Los Angeles DJ impersonating the comedian. A source at KROQ 106.7 confirms that ''Kevin and Bean Show'' entertainment reporter Ralph Garman got through to Chirac by claiming to be France's most loved American funnyman -- a prank that has the real Lewis considering legal action. ''Jerry is outraged that this impersonation occurred, especially at this critical time in the conduct of foreign policy,'' Alan Isaacman, Lewis' attorney, tells ''These are life and death matters, and the last thing that's needed is someone getting involved in this situation in a false manner. It's reprehensible and irresponsible, and we intend to pursue the appropriate remedies.'' (KROQ declined to comment on the hoax.) procured a tape of the phone call, during which Chirac assured Garman, ''I recognize your voice, no doubt about that'' and talked freely about why he isn't supporting an attack on Iraq.

Sounds like Lewis needs to develop a sense of humor, here -- but then, I suppose, he'd lose his popularity with the French. . . .

SKBUBBA HAS PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE that Saddam has been disarmed now.

THE WAR ON IRAQ is apparently proving a big distraction to Al Qaeda. Heh.


HAVANA - U.S. officials and Cuban dissidents reacted with anger as Fidel Castro (news - web sites)'s government arrested more activists and vowed to put them on trial in the country's harshest crackdown on dissent in years.

As tensions with the United States increased, a Cuban airliner carrying 29 passengers was hijacked Wednesday night and landed under U.S. military escort in Key West, Fla. The six hijackers were detained and faced federal air piracy charges.

At least 46 dissidents have been detained in a two-day operation by Cuban state security agents, human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said. He said arrests of anti-government activists continued Wednesday night.

Sanchez called it "the most intense repression in recent years."

The detentions come amid a sharp deterioration in relations between Washington and Havana, which has repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for encouraging dissent on the Caribbean island.

I wonder if any Hollywood stars will protest this "crushing of dissent" at the Oscars Monday night?


Best Moment on the BBC Tonight: A female guest, I think some Iraqi-Brit student, stormed out of the studio after pressing the other guest, an anti-war Iraqi, on whether he was anti-Saddam or not. “I think Saddam knows his country and has done great things,” the old geezer said, or thereabouts; college gal sputtered something about not believing her ears, and stomped off.

Welch has a lot of great stuff up.

JUST BECAUSE THERE'S A WAR ON doesn't mean that there aren't idiocies elsewhere. Here's a Texas Republican Congressman who wants to jail college kids for file-trading.

Why aren't the Democrats protesting this suggestion? Oh, right, because they're in the pockets of the entertainment industry. Charming.

Me, I think we should jail a few members of Congress as an example to the others. Let's treat acceptance of illegal campaign donations as a strict-liability felony. Call it Sarbanes-Oxley II. . . .

Meanwhile, let me know who's running against this guy next time, so I can send money. Legally, of course.

MORE EVIDENCE that resolution takes you farther than equivocation where arms-control is concerned:

The U.S. government has obtained potentially valuable new information on Iraq's biological and chemical weapons programs in recent days from scientists and intelligence agents confronted outside Iraq with threats that failure to cooperate could mean unpleasant consequences when Baghdad falls, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

In a top-secret adjunct to an openly reported diplomatic initiative, U.S. and allied intelligence services summoned scores of Iraqi operatives in foreign capitals to present a stark choice. They were told "they could either 'turn,' " said one official, using an expression for switching sides, or be expelled back to Iraq "to enjoy your very short stay in Baghdad."

Another official with access to written accounts of the conversations said the Iraqis were told that when the United States sorts friends and enemies after toppling President Saddam Hussein, "they'll be putting themselves and their families at the mercy of the new Iraqi government."

Hmm. Why didn't Hans Blix think of this approach? I'd ask him, but first I'd want to ask him where these scuds came from all of a sudden. . . .

A BUNCH OF LINKS over at Defense Tech, including one to this Wired story about thermobaric weapons going into the hands of individual soldiers.

WHY DIDN'T I POST MUCH last night? Because there wasn't much actual stuff to talk about. Ken Layne notes: "Unlike the cable teevee news, we're allowed to shut up when there's nothing to report." Layne has a lot of great observations on the events -- and on the coverage. My favorite: "You know, I'm not an evil dictator or anything, but I'm pretty sure I could make a videotape today claiming it was actually Saturday."

Howard Kurtz has a good roundup with links. So does Jeff Jarvis at his warblog. And James Lileks explains the true origin of "Shock and Awe."
And the Command Center, a new warblog collective, is up and running for the duration, which I hope will be brief.

March 19, 2003

INTERESTING ANALYSIS of long-term strategy, from Stratfor, over at Bill Quick's page.

SUMAN PALIT is blogging a lot.


Right up to the Red Army entering Berlin, Hitler was plotting a counterstroke, using divisions and regiments with all the combat power of companies and platoons. That is, if they still existed at all. You don't tell the madman with the power of life and death anything he doesn't want to hear.

Saddam won't just be hiding in an underground bunker, he'll be hiding from reality. And that works mostly in our favor.

Indeed. One can hope, of course, that he was hiding in the bunker we just struck, though life is seldom so simple.

SOME READERS DOUBT HIS AUTHENTICITY, others swear he's genuine (and, of course, there's no certainty either way) but Salam Pax is still blogging from Baghdad.

UPDATE: Boy, there are still lots of strong opinions. Personally, I hope that Salam is what he claims to be, and that he comes through this okay. But given the limits on Iraqi internet access -- especially in light of reports like this one -- his posting is, well, extraordinary. There are lots of explanations for that, and only some of them involve him being a propaganda tool. But some of them do involve him being a propaganda tool. Not that you shouldn't read his blog, or enjoy it. Just treat it like any other news source, and don't assume that it has to be true because it's a blog and it's written in first-person.

RAND SIMBERG SAYS it's a big hostage rescue mission.

BUSH'S SPEECH: No surprises, really. I'm watching the CNN and Fox commentators, who have fixed cameras in Baghdad and who seem deeply disappointed that they aren't showing any explosions. Next step: CNN dispatches special-effects technicians to set off phony blasts in camera range. . . .

UPDATE: Email:

CNN doesn't fake explosions. NBC does.

Eric Jablow

Oh, yeah. Right.


UPDATE: Bombs over Baghdad -- or cruise missiles, anyway. I wonder if these guys were involved.

THE SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA'S flight data recorder has been recovered. Apparently, NASA expects to be able to get useful information out of it.


In what conceivable way is France qualified to pronounce on friendship, loyalty, or even the European project? Its friends are corrupt African dictators and guilt-racked Germans; its loyalty to itself; and France has turned the European project into a vehicle for national vainglory and agricultural subsidies.

France has a Napoleon complex: it puffs up its chest, teeters on elevated heels, a dwarf country with public delusions of grandeur, and private self-doubt. There's no need for the rest of Europe to humor it. If the continent is truly to be a force in world affairs, and a counterbalance to overweening US power, France first needs therapy.

Indeed. A reader emails that he saw de Villepin on French TV claiming that international law virtually requires that France be let in on postwar reconstruction contracts.

UPDATE: The French are worried.

JOSH MARSHALL IS WORRIED that we won't kill enough Iraqis to ensure a stable postwar environment:

Not only did millions of Japanese and Germans die in World War II, but U.S. and British aerial bombing of major Japanese and German cities alone killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in what is now delicately termed “collateral damage.” And that’s not even counting the carnage caused by the atomic bombs we. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of the war against Japan. . . .

Violence, death and destruction on such a massive scale have a profound conditioning effect on the psyches of individuals. And the same applies to whole nations. Japan and Germany weren’t just ‘defeated’ or ‘occupied,’ they were crushed — not just their armies, but their civilian populations too. This led to a sort of national humiliation and a transformative willingness to embrace defeat and change.

True defeat changes people and nations too. The fact that our subsequent occupation turned out to be so benign was extremely important. But part of that importance was the contrast between how much these populations had suffered during the war and how much better things got for them after we took over.

And thus our problem. If everything goes according to plan, the loss of civilian life in Iraq will be minimal.

Not that Josh wants people to die, he just thinks it has a valuable pedagogical function. I think, though, that the past twelve years of sanctions and Saddamo-tyranny has been bad enough to produce the contrast that he's writing about. Let's hope. Anyway, first we have to, you know, win the war.

UPDATE: Read this post by Donald Sensing from last year.


Meanwhile Justin Weitz has a list of all the things that were tried before going to war. It's a long one.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Canada's largest independent oil producer can be held liable for genocide if it can be proven it cooperated with the Sudanese government to wage war on civilian populations near oil fields, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Talisman Energy Inc. cannot escape trial on the civil claims contained in a class-action lawsuit filed on Nov. 11, 2001, U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz said. A lawyer for the company did not immediately return a telephone message for comment. . . .

The lawsuit accused the company of collaborating with Sudan to commit gross human rights violations, including murders, forced displacement, war crimes, confiscation and destruction of property, kidnapping, rape and enslavement.

It described the current Sudanese government as a "Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalist movement" that was engaging in a "war of genocide" that has already claimed two million lives and displaced four million people, with the violence aimed at wiping out Christians and those practicing religions other than a strict form of Islam.

Hmm. Funny, I usually only hear American companies accused of this kind of stuff. No doubt it's all somehow Dick Cheney's fault, though.

Then there's this story:

PARIS Six decades after his parents were arrested and deported from German-occupied France, an Austrian-born French Jew went to court here Wednesday to demand that France's national railroad company accept its responsibility and express remorse for transporting Jews to Nazi death camps. . . .

This case dates back to 1991 when Schaechter, a retired musical instruments salesman, was searching in France's National Archives in Toulouse for information about his parents, both of whom were killed by the Nazis. Shocked by the evidence he found of French cooperation with the Germans, he violated regulations by removing documents to be photocopied, then returning them to their files. Over nine months, he copied more than 12,000 documents.

Among these was a letter written by the SNCF and dated Aug. 12, 1944, nine weeks after Allied troops landed in Normandy, demanding payment of 200,000 francs from the regional government of the Haute-Garonne Department in southern France for transporting Jewish detainees from concentration camps to the French border with Germany. In the letter, the SNCF warned that interest would be charged if the payment were not made on time.

This was just one of the myriad documents that Schaechter used in his long, and to date unsuccessful, campaign to have France open up its wartime archives, most of which remain sealed.

I guess that Andrea Peyser is right. But you watch -- the same people who are covering this stuff up will be piously claiming to sit in judgment on how the United States conducts the war.

JAMES MORROW worries that international conventions may kill civilians in Iraq.

SKY NEWS reports that bombing has started, involving targets that may possess chemical or biological weapons.

THIS ARTICLE ON STUDENT ACTIVISM in the Washington Post lists and links quite a few student pro-liberation groups.

Meanwhile the Brandeis student group is organizing a multi-campus support-the-troops campaign and invites students from all over to participate. They've reportedly faced vandalism and harassment at Brandeis, but they're not letting it stop them.

A SPACE SUMMIT involving representatives of many different space advocacy groups has produced a call for human settlement. Read the story -- I'll be writing more about this later.


The current trial follows the sleaze allegations which surfaced over an arms for kickbacks scandal, which centred on the now notorious liaison between former foreign minister Roland Dumas and a woman who dubbed herself "The Whore of the Republic".

The trial is being keenly watched in France, where it has stirred up charges of endemic corruption during the last years of late president Francois Mitterrand's rule.

Elf was controlled by the state at the time of the scandal.

It is now part of French oil firm TotalFinaElf which is negotiating multi-billion dollar deals with Iraq.

Negotiate all you want, guys, but I don't think those deals will be worth much.

ANOTHER REPORT that the fighting has started. Here's another that's not quite so clear.

LOTS OF NEW WAR COVERAGE over at The New Republic, including this from Gregg Easterbrook, and this from Kanan Makiya.

Also check out Howard Owens' new warblog for the Ventura County Star, and, of course, Jeff Jarvis's new syndicated weblog, which has links to raw video feed from the region.

IRANIAN-AMERICANS hope that Iran will be next:

Despite a generally festive celebration at San Rafael's McNears Beach Park last night in anticipation of the end to the Iranian calendar year tomorrow, the mood for at least some was tempered by a looming war in Iraq and the hope that perhaps the next step in America's Middle East plans would include their former homeland.

"I think most everybody here is for it," said San Rafael resident Iraj Zolnasr, 40, who left Iran in 1975 to study accounting at San Francisco State University, of the nearly 1,000 attending the festivities on a crisp night under a full moon. . . .

Even though he still has family living in Iran, he said he supports a U.S. war because that part of the world desperately needs democracy. The militant administration ruling the country fosters suicide bombers by not providing decent homes and jobs, he said, and does not represent how the majority of Iranians feel.

"Most people don't like them," he said, referring to the Iranian government.

I suspect that quite a few Iranians in Iran share these hopes.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has some thoughts.

THE FRENCH are starting to feel left out. I wonder how they'll feel about their new ambassador from America?

UPDATE: This News Analysis piece from the International Herald Tribune says that France and Germany are wondering if matters have gone too far. Read the whole thing.

Personally, I think the French could have saved themselves a lot of diplomatic trouble by reading weblogs.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Love the headline, agree with the sentiment. No wonder they're nervous.

FACT-CHECKING PAT BUCHANAN, over at the Volokh Conspiracy.

(Buchanan: "See! I told you there was a vast conspiracy of you-know-whos out to get me!" [There's a conspiracy of Volokhs out to get Pat Buchanan? -- Ed. He'd better hope not. . . .])

THE FIRST IRAQI SURRENDERS have taken place. May there be many more.

UPDATE: This sure sounds like it:

Masses of Iraqi soldiers are deserting and senior members of President Saddam Hussein's ruling family circle are defecting as the countdown to a British and US invasion reaches its final hours.

In northern Iraq, on the border with Kurdistan, up to three-quarters of some Iraqi regiments have already fled.

In the mainly Shia Muslim south, Kuwaiti border guards are having to turn Iraqi soldiers back - telling them that they must wait until an attack begins before they can surrender.

And in a highly significant development in Baghdad a half-brother of President Saddam, who is regarded as the dictator's closest adviser, has fled in the past week to Syria.

Of course, you never know how much to make of these early reports. And why are we making them wait?

ANOTHER UPDATE: James Morrow writes that according to Australian TV they're being taken prisoner, not sent back as earlier reported.

SADDAM HAS FIRED THE FIRST SHOT, according to this report from The Independent.

UPDATE: And this makes things official.


Yes, America is guilty of hypocrisy. But there's a lot of it about.

In Congo an estimated three million people have been killed in the past five years of war. More are killed there every month than in the past two-and-a-half years in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But though you'll see plenty of "Free Palestine" posters among the peace marchers, you won't see any "Free Congo" ones.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are the five biggest weapons sellers in the world.

Let me tell you about that gently spoken peacemaker, Kofi Annan. At the time of the Rwandan genocide he was head of UN peacekeeping operations. When the killings started, urgent diplomatic cables were sent from Rwanda to his office, telling of bodies littering the streets and begging for more UN forces. He ignored them. Did not even pass them on to the Security Council. He has never explained why. . . .

Of course it would be safer and sounder legally if the action had UN backing. But let us not pretend having UN backing would mean one fewer Iraqi civilian would be killed.

The most wicked thing is not the action the US and its allies have to take now. More wicked is the neglect and hypocrisy of the past - in which we have all colluded.

She still doesn't like Bush, though. But that's okay. It's not about Bush, as she seems to have realized.

(Via Oon Yeoh).

UPDATE: Adam Mersereau has more.

OF TRACTORS AND TERROR CZARS: Arthur Silber is unimpressed with the current state of homeland security.

"YOU MIGHT BE A TYRANT IF. . . ." Kris Murray has some examples.


It sometimes seems that the left is so averse to war, especially war waged by America, that it is prepared to turn a blind eye to even the most ghastly realities. Perhaps it is because the left no longer sees these realities that its antiwar arguments tend to justify continuation of the status quo. . . .

The antiwar left does not mount massive protests against China, Pakistan or Egypt. Millions do not pour into the streets on behalf of the student-led democracy movement in Iran. And Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are not angrily compared to Hitler -- that treatment is more often reserved for George W. Bush.

Yes, and that's why it's been such a marginal force despite all the groupthink among media folks who also hate George W. Bush.

BUSH DIPLOMACY: Michael Barone responds rather forcefully to Tom Daschle, likening him to a vulture.

UPDATE: This piece by Jonathan Rauch on North Korea is worth reading, too.

KOTTKE WEIGHS IN: "Summing up, Bush bad, war bad, this war not so bad even though bad Bush reasons also bad."

LIBERTARIANS against sodomy laws, discussed in a nice article by Linda Greenhouse.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is something that I wrote on the subject last fall.

OPEN WAR HAS BROKEN OUT -- no, not in Iraq. It's at NRO, and it's against paleoconservatives. David Frum leads the charge.

And that's not all. Grover Norquist is coming in for a major shellacking, too.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON BLOGS AND WAR by Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times. It suggests that weblogs have been more useful during the runup to war than they will be during the war itself. That may well be true -- we'll have to see. And here's a quote that gets things about right:

"Cable television still reaches a relatively small audience," he said, "and the number of people who read blogs is even smaller. But, in both cases, it's an awfully influential audience, and the blogs in particular have helped set the tone for that influential group's response to what's been going on.

Yep. I said something like this at the Reason get-together this weekend.

TARIQ AZIZ: Shot while trying to defect, according to unconfirmed reports. I don't know how much credence to give this, but it's interesting.

UPDATE: According to this report Aziz has defected, and is alive. Stay tuned. (LATER: Now the story has been changed, and says he hasn't defected, or been shot.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hesiod has a bunch of Aziz-related links, and suggests that the invasion is underway already.

Beats me what's going on. The fog of disinformation should be at its thickest right now.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Diana Moon has more.

LAST ONE: Aziz is reportedly live on Baghdad TV pointing out that he's not dead and saying that people shouldn't believe such reports. Hmm. Maybe the whole thing was Iraqi disinformation.

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: Here's the new face of war -- the all-female crew of an Air Force KC-135.

Wendy McElroy writes that this war is redefining feminism. You know, I think she may be right.

CATCHING UP to something I've been reporting for weeks both here and at, the Chicago Tribune reports on the link between talk radio and pro-liberation rallies. (But I'm also giving you the link to Howard Kurtz's summary because the link to the Trib story produces a registration-required popup that -- on my computer at least -- sat there for over a minute with nothing happening.) Anyway, here's the meat:

Some of the biggest rallies this month have endorsed President Bush's strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations.

In a move that has raised eyebrows in some legal and journalistic circles, Clear Channel radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Cincinnati and other cities have sponsored rallies attended by up to 20,000 people. The events have served as a loud rebuttal to the more numerous but generally smaller anti-war rallies.

Well, the "raised eyebrows" don't have anything to do with illegality since (1) there's a pretty clear First Amendment right to sponsor rallies; and (2) the story makes clear with a quote from Glen Robinson that there's nothing illegal here.

At any rate, with Hollywood making "message" films for years, and with television producing "very special episodes" of sitcoms larded with political indoctrination, it seems to me that the far more aboveboard practice of sponsoring rallies constitutes an improvement in business as usual among the entertainment industries. You know, because it's honest.

That's more than you can say for this Courtland Milloy column, which constitutes a shocking display of dishonesty-by-omission. Here's what he says:

Lindsay, a freshman at Howard University, is national student coordinator for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or ANSWER, an international coalition of antiwar groups. The organization was formed Sept. 14, 2001, to challenge the warmongering and the racial and religious profiling that emerged after 9/11.

Nothing about A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Stalinist connections, nothing about its banning of Michael Lerner or its antisemitism. Just an innocent group of high-minded antiwar activists, that's all. Milloy's piece is both over-the-top to the point of self-parody and dishonest, and he should be ashamed. But we won't read any media-critic stories about raised eyebrows where Milloy's piece is concerned. Because it may be dishonest, but it's a well-established form of dishonesty.

ED DRISCOLL writes about Hollywood's fear of change. He contrasts Hollywood with Silicon Valley and notes:

For a bunch of stasists, it's fairly amusing that the standard Hollywood clichй is that big business is stupid, rapacious and harmful to its customers (look at the films that they crank out to perpetuate this stereotype, from Norma Rae to Erin Brockovich). And yet, up north, "big business" is continually innovating, and finding solutions to problems. While back in Hollywood, those would-be champions of social reform don't want their consumers from wandering off the plantation—or even manufacturing cotton of their own.


IT'S NOT ABOUT THE WAR: My TechCentralStation column is up.

THERE WILL PROBABLY be a lot of warblogging today. Sorry, but that's what happens when there's a war starting. But to relieve the monotony, you can read this post about margarine labels, and this one about Eric Alterman's book, in case you missed them.

UPDATE: In an arrogant show of pure mastery, James Lileks responds to my margarine-label post, and in so doing reveals himself as the undisputed and indisputable Emperor of Grocery-Blogging.

HERE'S A COMPENDIUM OF LAME PHRASES like "weapons of mass distraction." Note to editors -- none of these are original anymore. Don't bother using them.

This translation page by Juan Gato is worth reading, too. Excerpt:

Doing what the French want.

Going forward without the support of the New York Times.

Read it all.

March 18, 2003

SMALL WORLD: Melissa Schwartz is blogging about a documentary by Frederick Wiseman, who's my wife's filmmaking role model. He's also, I recently learned from the alumni magazine, a Yale Law School alumnus.


UPDATE: Henry Copeland writes that InstaPundit is nowhere near peaking. That's cool, I guess, though it would be cooler if I got, like, a dollar per pageview. . . .

RICK BRUNER is neither a Bush fan, nor a warblogger. But he's got a long post on why we should go to war, and why the arguments against doing so don't hold water.

STIX NIX BLIX TRIX: This headline deserves a Pulitzer.

"WE ARE BETTER AT HIDING WMD than bald spots." Iraqi combover blues, courtesy of Canadian bloggers I Should Be Doing Homework.

NICK DENTON HAS A FASCINATING POST on the developing Arab case for war. Excerpt:

If the Americans enter, change the regime in Iraq, and bring in a democratic regime, it will be possible to replace the other regimes later. This is what Napoleon did. When he reached Egypt, the Mamelukes fled and a democratic movement arose, and the Egyptian people began to talk for the first time. The modern Arab renaissance began after Napoleon. But what happened is that after September 11, the Americans realized that the dictatorial regimes in the Arab region produce terrorists who attack America and Europe. The entire world lives in fear of the terrorists that these regimes produce. The Americans realized this. They do not want to establish democracy for our sake, but in order to defend themselves.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

A READER REMINDS ME that I promised a longer post on Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? quite a while ago, and never delivered. True enough.

I don't think I'm in the right frame of mind to do it justice, though, with war looming and my mind elsewhere. [Hey, you were in the right frame of mind to blog about margarine labels, and those don't have to do with the war -- Ed. Yeah, I'm in the right frame of mind to do justice to margarine labels, too. Not books. And don't you belong on Kaus's page? Yeah, but that damn animated ad with searchlights and disco music is starting to bug me, and I needed a break -- Ed. Hey, that's better than the one that made it look like mold was growing across your computer screen! Amen to that, brother -- Ed.]

Anyway, here's the short version. Alterman says that there's no such thing as a liberal media. And under his definition of liberalism -- what we might call Walter Reuther liberalism -- he's right. But Alterman admits quite clearly that journalists do share the values of the academic upper middle class. It's social liberalism, not economic liberalism, and although there's a class-based element to it, the class in question isn't the working class.

But the kind of liberalism that Alterman invokes is obsolete. By that standard, the Democratic party isn't liberal, either ("exactly!" some people shout). But when most people talk about "liberal media," they mean precisely the constellation of views that are associated with the academic upper middle class: Volvo/Brie liberalism. Or maybe John Zisk liberalism.

It's okay for Alterman to use the definition he chooses, of course: all definitions are permitted to the definer, so long as they are clear. But given that most people define liberalism differently, even if Alterman convinces them that his kind of liberalism is rare in the media, it's not likely to persuade many that the media aren't liberal according to the Volvo/Brie/Zisk definition.

In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing more of an anti-corporatist slant in the media: not Walter Reuther liberalism, perhaps, but one that recognizes that the political/governmental axis is way, way too tight these days. In fact, I wrote something on that a while back. But I don't think that's what Alterman has in mind.

LIKE JAMES LILEKS, I DO THE SHOPPING (and, usually, the cooking) for our household, and I keep seeing this stuff in the dairy aisle. And it bothers me. "Dew Fresh" is a fine name -- but for margarine that by its nature never got close to a single drop of dew, unless you count condensation on a refrigeration line at the plant where it was made, this seems a bit much. Who are they kidding?

I also like the way it's wrapped in wax paper for that crude, handmade-by-struggling-dairy-farmers look, too. And that's a flower there between "Dew" and "Fresh," though the first time I glanced at it I thought it was an atom, which somehow would have been just surreal enough to work.

I wonder -- was there a design meeting where guys with spiky hair weighed the different possibilities? Hmm. What should it be: Foil for a futuristic look? A fake stone crock made of plastic? A squeeze tube? -- Until one guy suddenly had an inspiration and exclaimed, "Wax paper! Crudely printed wax paper! That's the look we're going for!" And everyone else gasped in amazement, and he was promoted to Executive Creative Director for Margarine.

Lileks could get a whole essay out of this. All I got was a post. Well, that's the difference between us.

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: Michele says it all.

UPDATE: Asparagirl weighs in with some comments, and some ideas on helping out servicewomen, a subject that feminist groups have unaccountably neglected.

RATS AND LEMMINGS AND MOTHS in Iraq. And, also in BlogCritics, Toby Keith on Natalie Maines. He's not a fan.

UPDATE: A commenter on the Natalie Maines post writes:

The first and last Dixie Chicks song (and video) I heard was "Goodbye Earl." I know it was supposed to be cute and funny but I found it thoroughly offensive and nasty--and I'm an alt.rock fan, not at all sensitive about these things.

Killing Earl was pretty damn unilateral, come to think of it.

Indeed. By the way, if you haven't heard it yet, check out My Name is Earl by the Dixie Dicks.

WILL INVADING IRAQ SET A BAD PRECEDENT? Eugene Volokh responds to this claim in Slate:

But regardless of the arena, precedents chiefly influence those who care about equality and consistency and those willing to defer to the precedent-setter's judgment. The Chinese government, to take Howard Dean's example, fits neither category. When China is deciding whether or not to invade Taiwan, it will focus on its own interests, not on being consistent with what other governments have done. And Chinese officials are unlikely to be influenced by America's judgment about when a war is just: They simply don't respect our views the same way that we might respect our own Supreme Court or Congress.

Read the whole thing.

NORWEGIAN BLOGGER FREDRIK NORMAN is getting some attention for his pro-American venture. Meanwhile Bjorn Staerk reports that many Norwegians are starting to worry about a rift in relations.

DAN HANSON caught Eric Alterman pumping his book on The Daily Show. He wasn't impressed.

RAND SIMBERG REPORTS that the wounded media are trying to regroup.

DENMARK IS SENDING FORCES to help with Iraq. But the Danish Prime Minister was attacked by a "peace" activist in response. Dagh Nielsen has pictures -- just follow the link. He's also got a link to video of the attack. It's good video.

UPDATE: Reader Edward Baer emails:

These lefties are idiots. But my question is, "why does a tiny country like Denmark need such a huge parliament building?" Rasmussen was walking down one corridor after another for a full minute!

Yeah, I wondered about that, too.

DANIEL DREZNER finds some good news from Egypt.

A WARNING for both pro- and anti-war folks -- over at


Yesterday I ended up three down from Robin Cook when he made his resignation speech. What I would have done to have moved to the end of the row, but once you're in, you're in. His speech was typed (so he must have been writing it for some time) and his hands were quivering (it must have been very difficult).

To hear his moral case for no conflict contrasted to the moral case for a conflict put to me earlier in the day by the PM of the Kurds in Northern Iraq. "We have had 35 years of tyranny, and this is our last chance" he told me.

I also met a woman who had witnessed her sister drenched in petrol and set alight by Saddam's Republican Guard. 100 people were made to witness the event and threatened with being shot if they tried to extinguish the flames. She talked about the acid pools and the torture chambers. She told me how 21 members of her family died in the chemical attack at Halabja.

Why am I writing this? Well, it's because I'm now convinced there is not a moral case for inaction.

We need more blogging MPs.


EDWARD BOYD has an interesting post on Iraq / Al Qaeda connections.

PHIL CARTER tells a tale of "embedding" gone wrong, as two reporters file essentially the same story.


Game notes

Between the second and third periods, a portion of President Bush's address to the nation was played for the crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena. Cheers erupted five times, the loudest when Bush announced that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to leave Iraq and when the president finished. Seconds later a chant of ''U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A'' echoed through the building. ...


FAIR-WEATHER HAWKS: Jeremy Lott is unimpressed with what Mickey Kaus calls "balking hawks," those who were pro-war and are now waffling. Lott writes:

Read enough of Marshall or Friedman . . . or any number of other temporizing liberal hawks, and a sort of myopic utopianism will come into sharp focus. They want a world in which America is both loved and feared. That would, of course, be ideal. But sometimes you can't have both.



As David Aaronovitch points out, British media groupthink gives the impression that opposition to war there is near-universal, when it's anything but.

I think that a media-diversification effort in Europe would do wonders. What Europe needs is a talk-radio boom.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in a stunning rebuke to the Dixie Chicks, support for war is up in the United States, too. And here -- in line with predictions made on this site over a year ago -- is the most important part:

A majority of women now back the invasion of Iraq. Two thirds of those surveyed said they support a war with Iraq, compared to about half in a poll conducted two weeks ago. Eight in 10 men supported a war.

The bellicose-women trend, described here (and here, and here) almost 18 months ago, was real, and it's one of many reasons why the 9/11 attacks were such a staggering miscalculation.


The most far-reaching financial scandal in French history reached court yesterday after eight years of investigation, the death and flight of several witnesses, and a concerted government effort to ensure the less savoury elements of France's Africa policy are not exposed to public scrutiny.

For the next four-and-a-half months, the former top brass of Elf, the oil giant, will have to explain what happened to hundreds of millions of pounds diverted from company accounts for bribes and personal enrichment.

No major government figures have been implicated, but Elf's history as a cover for all manner of Franco-African shenanigans is the backdrop for the trial.

President Chirac is reported to be deeply concerned that France is not embarrassed as it tries to establish itself as an alternative to America's global leadership.

Heh. Still more reason -- and opportunity -- for us to follow Nick Denton's advice and work to split off France's African colonies and move them in a more democratic direction.

(Via Samizdata, which wonders if this trial will reveal an Iraq connection. Not if Chirac can help it. . . .)

UPDATE: Read this piece on the French corruption scandals, too. Also, this piece by David Ignatius from Legal Affairs last summer is worth reading.

Perhaps this issue will get more attention in American and British media now. . . .

JANET RENO SAYS that you don't deal with a crazed, weapon-accumulating, charismatic leader by sending in tanks.

Sorry -- I'm suffering an irony overload right now.


IS THE EUROPEAN UNION DYING? Some people think so.

Meanwhile, Germany's military is being called a "basket case:"

But even if Germany did want to take part in a war on Iraq, military experts say it would find it hard to fight alongside the modern United States military.

"They're a basket case," a senior NATO official in Brussels said.

The United States has urged Germany and other NATO allies to transform their traditionally static armed forces into high-tech, mobile services that can better share the task of policing the world.

Most NATO allies have followed Germany's lead in letting defense spending languish since the end of the cold war, investing in rich social welfare programs instead. As a result, America's annual defense budget is now nearly double that of the 18 other NATO countries combined.

And don't even ask about the French. Welfare-statism doesn't work. I suspect we'll see that demonstrated again in the next decade or two. My worry has been that Europe wouldn't be able to face the truth without a wrenching -- and perhaps violent -- transition. The good news is, they may not be able to muster much in the way of violence by then.

This brings me no pleasure, but I think that Old Europe, like an alcoholic, will have to hit rock bottom before it's able to change.


Saddam has destroyed some missiles but beyond that he has done only what he thinks is necessary to keep the UN divided on the use of force. The really important issues relating to chemical and biological weapons remain unresolved. . . .

The veto threat did not help the diplomacy. It's too bad, because if a majority of the security council had adopted the Blair approach, Saddam would have had no room for further evasion and he still might have disarmed without invasion and bloodshed. Now, it appears that force will be used to disarm and depose him.

Nice to see Clinton weigh in, even if it is a bit late.

JIM BENNETT WRITES that the United Nations was the training wheels, but the Anglosphere is the bike. Or something like that.


The French Bioethics Bill is particularly contrary to the Biotech Directive. Unlike the Biotech Directive, which allows the patenting of isolated gene sequences where some utility is shown, the Bioethics Bill forbids the patenting of gene sequences. The French bill will allow the patenting of a specific technical application of a function of an element of gene sequence.

But the French government has made no attempt to suggest that the two pieces of legislation are compatible. In fact, French Health Minister Professor Matthei, a sponsor of the bill, suggests that the best way forward would be for the Biotech Directive to be interpreted in accordance with the Bioethics Bill.

The absurdity of this suggestion is clear: a European Directive which was duly passed after over a decade of negotiations, and which was unsuccessfully challenged in the highest European Court, should now be effectively scrapped and replaced with the French Senate's view.

Where now after the French "Non"?

One can only imagine the cries of outrage if it were the United States doing something like this.

March 17, 2003

BUSH'S SPEECH: A rather abrupt beginning, as Bush just walked into the frame and started talking. But it was a much better performance than his previous press conference. Bush looked rested, and firm.

The substance was no great surprise. He did a good job of stressing that the problem was the Security Council's unwillingness to enforce previous resolutions, and of noting France's expressed intention to veto regardless of the facts, but without mentioning France by name. Bush continues to be far kinder to his adversaries than they are to him, and he went out of his way to make nice regarding the United Nations. Was that wise? Probably, even if they don't deserve it.

Bush's repetition of promises to produce a free Iraq was good, too, as were his other comments aimed at the Iraqi people and military. Overall, one of Bush's better performances, though that's admittedly not the strongest standard. But it was entirely adequate to the occasion. The big question: if Saddam makes clear that he won't step down, will we start before the 48 hours has expired?

UPDATE: Stephen Green was blogging the speech live.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a transcript. Best line: "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

Max Rosenthal liked the speech.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus has a roundup of reactions.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Abrams emails from Nashville:

Last night I was at the Nashville Predators-Edmonton Oilers (NHL) game. The showed the president's speech on the Jumbotron at the first intermission. Speech greeted with loud cheers and applause in many parts.especially the "we are not fragile" line.

No boos.

I'm not surprised.

HMM. MAYBE KOFI ANNAN has figured out who's to blame:

Asked whether today was a very sad day for the UN and the world, he said: “In the sense that we are not able to do it peacefully, obviously it is a disappointment and a sad day for everybody. War is always a catastrophe. It leads to major human tragedy, lots of people are going to be uprooted, displaced from their homes and nobody wanted that and this is why we had hoped that the Iraqi leadership would have cooperated fully and would have been able to do this without resort to use of force. But the little window that we seem to have seems to be closing very, very fast. I’m not sure at this stage the Council can do anything in the next couple of hours.”


WAY BACK WHEN INSTAPUNDIT WAS NEW, I had this post on crime-lab scandals. Now there's this story:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than six years after the FBI crime laboratory was rocked by controversy, the Justice Department has identified about 3,000 criminal cases that could have been affected by flawed science and skewed testimony.

It is letting prosecutors decide whether to tell defendants about the problems.

I'm deeply skeptical of that approach, to put it mildly. As I wrote back before September 11, the FBI had serious problems. And it still does.

UPDATE: TalkLeft has more on this.

MEGAN MCARDLE writes about life in the closet. Come out, Megan! It's the only way to make people drop their prejudices and accept you as a person.

FUNNY, I don't recall anyone requesting Security Council authorization for this operation.

Somebody call Kofi Annan.

I STRONGLY DOUBT that this claim is true, but I liked it. (The other side says "Fast Free Wireless Internet Access!"). As I've argued elsewhere, wireless Internet service looks like a good way for businesses to attract customers.

It seems I'm not the only one who thinks this is the case. I hope we'll see more businesses jumping on the Wi-Fi bandwagon soon.

I'll drop by the Mellow Mushroom sometime in the near future and post a report on the service. And the pizza.

"OH, THOSE weapons of mass destruction. . . ."

UPDATE: Then, of course, there's this:

An alleged terrorist accused of helping the 11 September conspirators was invited to a party by the Iraqi ambassador to Spain under his al-Qaeda nom de guerre, according to documents seized by Spanish investigators.

Yusuf Galan, who was photographed being trained at a camp run by Osama bin Laden, is now in jail, awaiting trial in Madrid. The indictment against him, drawn up by investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, claims he was 'directly involved with the preparation and carrying out of the attacks ... by the suicide pilots on 11 September'.

Evidence of Galan's links with Iraqi government officials came to light only recently, as investigators pored through more than 40,000 pages of documents seized in raids at the homes of Galan and seven alleged co-conspirators.


I GUESS THIS was only a matter of time. . . .

"HOW EXACTLY WOULD LEAVING SADDAM HUSSEIN IN POWER PROMOTE PEACE AND JUSTICE IN IRAQ?" That's the question that an Iraqi-American caller asks a "peace activist" on this KVI radio program. And it's a question that she never answers.

Thanks to reader Anne Haight for the link. Here's more information.

UPDATE: H.D. Miller doesn't think that the caller's really an Iraqi, though he is convinced that the peace activist's befuddlement is genuine.

WHAT HATH CHIRAC WROUGHT? Some thoughts on French diplomatic efforts, and their likely impact on France's position, over at

UPDATE: This piece on "European resistance to the French empire" is worth reading, too.

FUEL-CELL POWERED PDAS? Believe it or not, the answer is yes.

JOHN SCALZI SAYS "BRING IT ON" where war is concerned, but says that the Bush Administration has been guilty of diplomatic incompetence.

I think it was a mistake to go the Security Council route. But I think that France's backstabbing surprised almost everyone, not just the Bush Administration. In retrospect, we probably should have recognized that self-aggrandizing yet self-defeating diplomacy is a French hallmark, and that we shouldn't have believed French promises.

But you have to give Bush credit -- though few will -- in that he's bent over backward to try to let the international system demonstrate relevance and competence. And by doing so he has made abundantly plain that the United Nations is a joke, and that France and Germany are not our friends, but (France, especially) our would-be rivals. And there's value in that.

That said, I wouldn't have gone to the Security Council at all. And you can bet that neither the United States, nor any other power, is likely to do so ever again.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner offers a detailed postmortem and concludes:

A better effort would have left France more isolated in the Security Council and given the looming war a greater patina of multilateralism. Make no mistake, however, this ending is not that much different from a best-case scenario.

Yeah. The French made clear -- by Chirac saying it -- that no evidence whatsoever would change their position. This has given Russia and China cover to posture for the anti-American third-world vote, as has been their habit for decades.

PRESIDENT BUSH will address the nation at 8 p.m. this evening.

THE NEW YORK TIMES is finally admitting that Paul Ehrlich was wrong. Better late than never.

Say, they're correcting all sorts of old errors lately. I wonder if it's the power of the blogosphere at work?

UPDATE: Steve Verdon is looking out his window to see if there are any cats and dogs living together.

JUAN PAXETY has a Rachel Corrie obituary up. She's the peace activist killed when she ran in front of an Israeli bulldozer.

UPDATE: Reader David Bernstein emails:

The New York Times properly identified Ms. Corrie and the group she works with as Palestinian sympathizers, which, from what I read about her in particular, is true. Real peace activist groups would sit in Israeli cafes and buses threatened with suicide murders (a much better phrase than "homicide bombers") not just in Gaza homes. I hate to see you being more PC than the Times.

Well, that's me -- Mr. PC. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who writes for The Guardian?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bigwig has more, and is fact-checking some purported photos.

SPRING BREAK: Just had a two-hour committee meeting. Now I have to schedule a meeting for a new committee that I'm chairing. Woohoo! The carefree life of an academic on spring break.

JONATHAN ADLER is raising the question of whether the partial-birth abortion ban legislation is within the constitutional power of Congress, a question that was also raised here last week.

I think a lot of "fair-weather federalists" are ignoring this issue, and they shouldn't be.


In the past few decades, a whole host of slimeballs have been thrown out of office as a result of outside military intervention without UN sanction. The list of ex-tough guys includes Idi Amin, chief clown of Uganda, deposed by the Tanzanian army; Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge band of merry men, sent packing after a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, and Mobutu Sese Seko, chief kleptocrat of Zaire, ousted by a coalition of the African willing.

None of these interventions provoked massive protest marches in London, Paris, Rome or Surabaya, and one is tempted to conclude that the non-reaction is explained by the belief that it's ok to kick out the bad guys, as long as the kicker-outers are not Americans.

I think he's right to note that the consequence of all the protest will be negative:

In other words, the result will be precisely that least desired by American critics: The UN will go the way of the League of Nations (perhaps even to the point of American withdrawal), and the US, instead of being a mere global cop, will become a global supercop.

I think that's most likely. The other potential outcomes are worse.

SEX -- SAFER THAN WE THOUGHT? There's some evidence, at least, that AIDS among heterosexuals in Africa has more to do with dirty needles than with sexual practices.

How much credence should this get? I don't know. Stay tuned.

WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS is a unilateralist, take-no-bullshit-from-diplomats, send-in-the-paratroops, guns-over-butter President -- like Josiah T. Bartlett.


Is it a coincidence that fake Puma ads spread crazily around the Internet just as AdWeek announces Puma's new & improved online presence?

You don't think they're trying to pull a "raging cow" do you? Actually, I think they already have. . . .


When a group called the Young Conservatives of Texas was preparing to protest a Bill Clinton appearance in the state, Steve McLinden, a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, used the paper's e-mail to send the group this message:

"Ah, the heartless, greedy, anti-intellectual little fascists are mobilizing again. (Let me guess. All you frat boys saved up your allowances and monies from your McDonald's jobs for those Beemers you'll be driving to the protest, and those new jackboots you'll be sportin' en route)."

Editor Jim Witt let McLinden go that day and apologized to the group. "Obviously, reporters have opinions," Witt says. "But we expect our reporters not to express those opinions unless they're columnists."

What's most notable, of course, is the juvenile, sneering, substance-free tone. When you send an email like this -- especially if you're a journalist -- what, exactly, do you expect to accomplish here?

And can we trust this guy to honestly cover people he openly regards as greedy little fascists?

STAY TUNED Evan Coyne Maloney shot a new video this weekend. It'll be up soon.

ANDREW SULLIVAN reports that support for the war is up, support for France is down, and anti-war protesters are calling for American troops to shoot their officers.


President Bush should reward those countries whose leaders stand with us in stopping the spread of 21st-century terror. Example: move our 70,000 troops and their families from garrisons in pacifist Germany to more strategic, less expensive deployments in Bulgaria and Poland.

Our response to the quagmire of the U.N. Security Council should be to stop pretending it is a vehicle for collective security or moral authority. Presidents Chirac and Putin, who supported Saddam's refusal to disarm for a decade, delivered the coup de grвce to that dreamy notion. However, we should continue charitable contributions to the U.N.'s humanitarian establishment, useful in postwar reconstruction.

NATO? Because France has long been half-out, America is in the Western alliance's strong majority. We should urge the move of its headquarters from unstable Brussels to new-Europe's Budapest. If Chirac carries out his threat to veto the entry of our East European allies into the European Union, we should object to any further military or economic integration with Putin's Russia.

That brings us to Turkey, whose turnabout has been the unkindest cut of all. . . .Therefore, as Turkey presses its case for admission to the European Union to its newfound friends in France and Germany, we should say nothing. And we should base our judgment on loans to financially distressed Turkey from the International Monetary Fund on pure economic merit. Neither punitive nor supportive, Bush should treat the Turks' requests as deliberately as they have treated ours.

It is no retaliation for us to provide arms to the free Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to fight Saddam, ending our foolish policy of demurring to Turkish paranoia about such help leading to an independent Kurdistan.

We should do the right thing. They'll hate that.

I'M BACK. To be honest, I enjoyed the blogging-break. But now I'm tanned, rested and ready for what comes next.

Well, okay, actually I'm tanned (er, well, as much as you can get from the one sunny afternoon on the beach that I had), jetlagged, and ready for what comes next.

March 16, 2003

MADE IT HOME ALIVE, amid rumors of war. See you tomorrow.